Sunday, June 10, 2007

COMMUNITY DAY ON WEST MORRIS STREET

STREET FESTIVAL. Saturday's weather was perfect for a great street festival on West Morris Street. The West Indianapolis Community Day was enjoyed by about 500 neighbors who live, work, or worship in the first matrix of neighborhoods southwest of downtown Indy. Hosted by West Indianapolis Community Development Corporation with funding from Mayor Peterson's Great Indy Neighborhoods Initiative (GINI), the event was the best in the past for years. Thanks to Beth Gibson of WIDC for great planning and coordination.


CHURCH INVOLVEMENT. As in past years, the staff of Mary Rigg Neighborhood Center put for yeomen effort. MRNC remains the foremost advocate for this inner-city community. But direct involvement of some congregations in the community made a positive contribution this year. West Morris Street Free Methodist Church's (that's the congregation I serve!) youth ministry hosted a 3 v 3 basketball tournament and Comunidad Cristiana's (our sister Latino congregation at WEMO) worship team sang on the main stage in the middle of West Morris Street. Over 50 folks from WEMO came out and participated in the day's activities. St. John the Forerunner Orthodox Church also got involved in a big way.

WIDE-RANGING PARTICIPATION. Local and state services participated with demonstrations, registrations, and interactive learning opportunities. Organizations included: Indianapolis Fire Department, Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, Indy Parks & Recreation, Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library, Marion County Department of Public Health, Indiana Department of Natural Resources, IndyGo public transit, among others. Local businesses also participated and contributed significantly.

LOOK AGAIN. The preventive and proactive power of such community events is inestimable. What is accomplished during these hours in which neighbors come together to meet one another, learn about those who seek to serve and support them, and about their own capacities and neighborliness deserves serious consideration. Those who report only bad news of the inner city and define such communities primarily by their vulnerabilities would do well to rethink their assessments--even their contribution to disunity, division, and community demise. Social assets, community capacity, and solid infrastructure is significant here. Community is alive in the heart of the city.

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